(From de-mulceo, to soften). Demulcent medicines sheath the acrimony of the humours, and render them mild. Dr. Cullen says, they are such as are suited to correct acrids, or to obviate the irritations arising from them. Emollients are occasionally demulcents; for they often sheath acrid humours, and soften rigid fibres. Sec Emollientia.
Demulcents are of two kinds, viz. general, or specific, obtunding only a particular acrimony.
The general sort are, 1st, All oils obtained by the expression of fruits, or formed by boiling vegetable substances containing them; the oil distilled from wax, and all animal fats. 2dly, All insipid inodorous plants that yield no oil, but are merely mucilaginous. 3dly, The viscid insipid gums. 4thly, All the animal gela-tines and albumens. Watery fluids, usually styled ae mulcents,are rather to be considered as Diluents; q. v. The specific demulcents are those which unite by chemical affinity with the acrid: these are chiefly alkalis and acids, when the acrimony is of the opposite kind. Bitters are supposed to be demulcents when the acrimony is bilious: vegetable acids are more certainly such in the same case. The other acrimonies described by authors are numerous, but generally imaginary, except probably the saline, for which diluents are the remedies.